Universal – all in a single pass:
The KF 2628 plate processing centre from Kaltenbach
Booming markets offer diverse opportunities for committed businesses, but the competition is tough. High levels of productivity, high standards of quality and an ability to innovate are key factors that help you stand out from the competition. It also pays to have modern, well-engineered machinery. To obtain the best equipment, companies are no longer restricting themselves to suppliers in their own country or continent; sourcing nowadays is a global affair, especially for Asian businesses. Kaltenbach, the internationally renowned machine-tool manufacturer from Lörrach in Germany, has recognised this trend and begun to gain a foothold in Asia. With standard-setting technical solutions, the experts from the Black Forest are well placed to find favour with Asian customers.
Chinese companies are faced with a competitive international environment which has forced them to raise standards of quality, performance and operational safety. Nowadays, they are essentially the same as those in the West. And technical equipment must ultimately reflect this development. Guangdong Huatai Steel Structure Co. Ltd, which is part of Steelhot Com, is a good illustration of this change. This well-known Chinese steel fabricator founded in 2002 currently manufactures sophisticated steel structures for customers in China and other Asian countries and employs 275 skilled workers on a 200,000 m2 site. The company processes 2000 tonnes of steel each month – from low-cost steel structures to premium quality steel products. Customers such as BlueScope Steel or BYD Company Limited require structural steel, composite panels, roof purlins or building materials made from processed steel. Continuous investment in machines which intuitively reduce the number of manual operations performed by workers and therefore optimise wage costs, combined with state funding programmes, have helped the company to grow.
Market changes often trigger the targeted use of the latest technology. Insufficient domestic demand is prompting more and more Chinese steel producers and fabricators to move into foreign markets, where they face very stiff competition. Overcapacity has put pressure on pricing, forcing them to process orders faster with reduced staffing levels and yet to a higher standard – and in the medium term at least, at lower cost. No wonder these companies are looking for modern technologies and automatable manufacturing processes to lighten their load. Increased productivity, faster throughput times and quality assurance is what they want from machine-tool manufacturers. This is certainly what Guangdong Huatai Steel Structure Co., Ltd. was looking for in a new partner. And they found it a 17-hour flight away in Lörrach, a German city close to the French and Swiss borders.
The experts at Kaltenbach were not fazed by Chinese company’s requirements. They wanted to perform manufacturing technologies such as drilling, counter-sinking, milling and flame-cutting on a single machine to keep staffing levels down. This would minimise the number of manual operations and reduce their reliance on several small machines. The error rate would fall, leading to a reduction in storage and buffering spaces. Machining operations would have to be performed in a single pass. Overall, this would speed up manufacturing processes and improve quality, which would ultimately be reflected in a competitive sales price. The company would then be able to process more orders per unit of time. Kaltenbach’s range of durable, reliable, low-maintenance machines packed with useful technical functions were more than able to satisfy the demand for a general reduction in production costs. And the one which ticked all the boxes was the KF 2628 plate processing centre. As the saying goes: All for one. One for all.
Productivity and speed demand innovative engineering
To maximise cost effectiveness and throughput speed when processing different steel plates, the individual machining steps should ideally be performed by a single machine. The KF 2628 is a true all-rounder in this respect. It excels at drilling, counter-sinking, thread-cutting, centre-marking, etching, milling, plasma and oxyfuel cutting. It can accomplish virtually any task.
Customary processing centres can barely keep pace with the Kaltenbach range. For instance, two drilling units now ensure a greater level of parallelisation when it comes to precision drilling and flame-cutting. This virtually doubles throughput per unit of time, maximising efficiency for customers, and significantly increasing order processing speeds. The powerful 34.5 kW spindle drive in conjunction with HSS, carbide and especially solid carbide tools ensures high machining speeds. The rapid 14-place tool changer offers an ample supply of tools to significantly reduce setup times. The KF 2628 even has space for 28 tools, which is unrivalled on the market.
Versatility is the trump card
The versatile cutting system can accommodate sheets up to 2 600 mm x 12 000 mm with a thickness of up to 100 mm. The integrated plasma cutting unit is suitable for thinner sheets, while the oxyfuel cutting unit is designed for sheet thicknesses up to 100 mm. The machine is sufficiently robust and stable to process sheets weighing up to 10 tonnes – making it second to none. Furthermore, the high-load transport system can handle significantly larger plate dimensions than comparable machines. Automatic measurement of plate geometry and tool length guarantees consistent precision with the KF 2628. Downholder rolls ensure optimum contact pressure on the plate for precision machining and prolonged tool life – especially during milling operations. A measuring carriage on the side reliably guides the plate through the machine and additionally fixes the plate at the correct machining height. The integrated drop-down table automatically drops small parts into an in-spec parts bin without manual intervention from the operator. Additional features such as a contour marking tool for marking parts, or a marking tool with up to two stamping wheels working in tandem facilitates subsequent parts allocation or the application of weld markings.
The works scheduling office can program and import parts data and perform nesting operations via various interfaces. It then transmits CNC data directly to the machine. Kaltenbach uses the LANTEK software package developed by industry experts. The feedback signal from the machine is transmitted in real time. Entirely in keeping with Industry 4.0, the design engineers receive a detailed report on machine status and information on machining times and manufacturing costs. Furthermore, when it comes to service, the customer is never left to their own devices. Using modern remote diagnostics – via Internet or telephone – technical questions are resolved quickly and effectively.
The productive collaboration between Kaltenbach and Guangdong Huatai Steel Structure Co., Ltd has proved fruitful. Mr Xuri Li, manager at Huatai, looks forward to continuing their involvement with the German manufacturer and expects to procure more machines. “We are delighted to have found Kaltenbach. The quality of their machines and their reliability have won us over. We particularly appreciate the fact that the experts paid very careful attention to our requirements right from the start and used their international industry expertise to implement them with pinpoint precision. We look forward to discovering what the design engineers in Lörrach will come up with next, particularly with regard to our steel structures and the local Chinese market conditions."